Saturday, April 24, 2010

Owners who breed their dogs

Called just before half-past seven this morning by a panicked owner whose Yorkshire terrier bitch had been in labour since the previous evening with no sign of puppies. He'd got absolutely no money — not even the cost of a consultation fee for our clinic, although he had been responsible enough to get her vaccinated and registered with us so we could get her seen by the vets who provide our clinical services as an emergency. I don't know at this stage what happened or whether she and her puppies lived or not.

If she survives, she will be luckier than the poor animal whose eventual fate was described in last week's Mirror:

A family yesterday claimed their dog was put down by a vet because they could not afford a £1,200 operation.

Parents Andrew and Lisa Geddes took Staffordshire bull terrier Coco for treatment as she struggled to give birth to puppies.

The couple claim they were told a consultation would be £39 but after the pet was examined they were informed a caesarian op was needed costing at least £1,240.

It sounds from the article as though the owners were expecting the £39 to cover their pet's treatment and had no realistic idea of what operations cost. They probably were intending to sell her puppies (in itself not wonderful considering how many unwanted Staffies are out there), but I doubt whether they were just cold-bloodedly trying to turn a profit; they probably did love her and were very unhappy that she died; they just didn't expect to have to take any responsibility.

That's why we'll help the little Yorkie, but we will insist that her owner gets her spayed as soon as is compatible with her welfare and that of any surviving puppies and we will insist he pays us for her treatment.

Twenty or thirty years ago the vets who saw the Staffie bitch would probably have allowed her owner to pay by installments — and the owners would probably have actually paid. There's no shame in being poor, and there's no reason why people who aren't well off shouldn't have the fun and companionship that pets bring into our lives. If everyone decides the world owes them a living the system falls apart and it's misery all round.

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